HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The Cosmos' trip to Dubai will offer the team a lot; Team bonding, a chance to train at a world class facility and at the very least no snow.
The two week trip to the Middle East is all part of the team's preparation for the upcoming spring season and their quest to repeat as NASL Champions. The Cosmos will be taking part in both the spring and fall campaigns, something they have not done since the Cosmos rebooted last summer.
So they know repeating won't be easy.
"It's always very difficult to repeat," Carlos Mendes said following Friday's practice. "You have a lot more games, so the season is much longer for us this year and we'll need everybody. For us we realize it's going to be a very difficult task. It's a good league and we have things like the [U.S.] Open Cup also."
Participating in the U.S Open Cup will be a first for the Cosmos, but it will be an added task to balance while competing in regular season play. Mendes says this season will be about taking things one game at a time.
"You focus on the game ahead of you, but the import part of that is having a good squad overall," he said. "You can't just have 11-12 good players. We had that last year and I think we've even added this year. That's the key to a season that has the [U.S.] Open Cup. It has a lot more games and hopefully we'll be ready for it."
The Cosmos have been training for the past four weeks and head coach Giovanni Savarese said it was going well, despite all the snow that has hit Long Island. The team still has to finalize the roster, but most of the players from last year will be returning along with offseason acquisitions Hans Denissen and Mads Stokkelien.
On Monday the team will depart for Dubai, where they will be training at UAE Football Association’s training complex. The Cosmos will also partake in several friendlies while they are there.
Prior to Last season the Cosmos took a trip to England for training.
"It makes a big difference to be in a hot weather place and especially training on a big soccer field that is grass," Savarese said about the Dubai trip. "For us it's huge. I think things are more positive for us to go there. It's always a good thing when the group goes together to a location. We bond, we work together and we see the guys from the morning to the night. At the end we build up the locker room."
Mendes Added: "Dubai will be a good opportunity for some great games and to kind of get on an outdoor field, which is a little bit different."
And of course the trip allows the team to experience a new culture and take in the sights. "Everywhere we go we try to make sure we go sight seeing, because we want the players to learn the culture of where we go," Savarese said.